The Hatters suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Sky Bet Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns this afternoon.
Town went behind early in the first half as Donervon Daniels diverted Callum Robinson’s cross into the back of his own net.
The hosts doubled their lead in the 70th minute when Semi Ajayi headed the ball in, ending a run of seven games without a win to move them back above Leeds United.
Hatters boss Graeme Jones made one change to the starting line-up following victory against Derby County in midweek, with Daniels making his first league start in place of the injured Sonny Bradley.
West Brom took the lead in the 14th minute as Robinson’s dangerous cross was turned in by Daniels, whose outstretched leg diverted the ball past Simon Sluga into the back of the net.
Kazenga LuaLua was dangerous as ever for the Hatters going forward, and he went close to equalising but his shot from the edge of the box went narrowly over the bar.
Town had the ball in the back of the net 20 minutes after the opener as Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu’s shot was flicked on by Harry Cornick towards Collins, who stabbed the ball home from close range, but he was judged to be in an offside position.
Matty Pearson made a vital block on the stroke of half-time to deny Albion a second goal. Matty Phillips delivered a cross into the box which Filip Krovinovic flicked into the path of Austin, but as he was about to make connection, Pearson was there to clear the danger.
The Hatters had the best chance of the second half as LuaLua got forward down the left-hand-side and picked out Mpanzu in the middle, but a touch too many from the midfielder allowed the hosts to block his shot behind for a corner.
There were big appeals for a Hatters penalty in the 64th minute as Mpanzu turned Bartley well but was seemingly pushed to the ground as he tried to continue towards goal, though referee Stephen Martin was unmoved.
At the other end, Sluga produced a top save to deny Phillips initially, but two minutes later the winger delivered an accurate cross into the box that was powerfully headed home by Ajayi.
Town continued fighting valiantly and could have got a goal back when the former Baggies Izzy Brown and Callum McManaman combined shortly after West Brom’s second, but the latter’s effort was blocked.
Despite continuing to push, the Hatters left the Hawthorns with no points, leaving them seven points from safety with 16 games remaining.
WEST BROM: Johnstone, O’Shea, Bartley, Ajayi, Townsend, Livermore, Sawyers, Phillips (Furlong 77), Krovinovic (Harper 85), Robinson, Austin (Robson-Kanu 62). Subs not used: Bond, Edwards, Hegazi, Tulloch
Goals: Daniels og (14), Ajayi (70)
TOWN: Sluga, Bree, Pearson, Daniels (Carter-Vickers 73), Potts, Tunnicliffe (Brown 61), Rea, Mpanzu, Cornick, LuaLua (McManaman 73), Collins. Subs not used: Shea, Berry, Shinnie, Moncur.
Attendance: 25,141 (1,534 Hatters)
Referee: Stephen Martin